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J Sleep Res. 2010 Mar;19(1 Pt 1):3-11. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2869.2009.00741.x. Epub 2009 Jul 29.

Linking impulsivity to dysfunctional thought control and insomnia: a structural equation model.

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  • 1Swiss Center for Affective Sciences, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.


According to cognitive models of insomnia, excessive mental activity at bedtime may be viewed as an important impediment to the process of falling asleep. A further assumption of these models is that 'cognitive arousal' may be perpetuated and exacerbated by counterproductive strategies of thought management. As yet, little is known about factors that may predispose people to rely on these strategies when confronted with thoughts that keep them awake at night. This study examined the relations between impulsivity, use of different thought-control strategies and insomnia severity. A sample of 391 university students completed the UPPS Impulsive Behavior Scale, the Thought Control Questionnaire Insomnia-Revised and the Insomnia Severity Index. Correlation analyses revealed that two facets of impulsivity (urgency and lack of perseverance), two strategies of thought control (aggressive suppression and worry) and insomnia severity were positively associated. Follow-up structural equation modeling analyses showed that the two mentioned thought-control strategies mediated the effects of the two facets of impulsivity on sleep problems. These findings extend existing cognitive accounts of insomnia by suggesting how predisposing and perpetuating factors may be related: specific personality traits may incline individuals to respond with dysfunctional thought-control strategies to unwanted mental activity at night.

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